MACOMB -- National Public Radio's Cheryl Corley, now based in Chicago but formerly of Peoria, spoke to a Western Illinois University audience on March 31 about NPR. But not about creeping corporate control of the popular public radio network.
When asked about corporate influence on NPR programming, because business and corporations heavily fund the stations, she wouldn't comment. "Local people make those decisions," she said.
I had asked her about corporate influence and why NPR stations in Macomb and Peoria won't broadcast Democracy Now. The show plays on WTND-FM in Macomb and the ICC radio station, WAZU-FM in Peoria.
Corley also wouldn't comment on the national NPR issue of Republicans trying to defund the network and PBS, because of alleged bias. NPR and PBS are not biased, or course, unless you consider accurate science and political reporting, which tells the truth, a bias.
Corley said, "it's not my job to talk about funding issues and the politics of it."
Otherwise the talk was interesting. NPR is actually a producer of shows which the local affiliates purchase. Its shows reach 34 million listeners through 900 stations. It has 17 foreign bureaus, and 16 national bureaus in US cities.
The median age of listeners is 55 years, versus 44 years for all radio. Its audience has increased by 58 percent in the last decade, and it has not suffered the journalism woes that have hit print and commercial networks, likely because it is a not-for-profit and has not been sold to Wall Street. Yet.
Is it liberal or elitist? Surveys show 28 percent of its listeners say they are conservatives, she said, 25 percent in the middle and 37 percent liberal or very liberal.
I would describe the listeners as the educated elite in the US who appreciate diverse, in-depth stories. If that's elitism, let's have more of it.
Corley said NPR reporters have "subject expertise," something that's becomming rare in the cash-strapped commercial media. The NPR network focuses on "strong story telling" and "the intimacy of the human voice," she added.
-- Elaine Hopkins